Separate law needed to fight honour killings, panel says

NEW DELHI: A high-level committee on status of women sought a separate law to punish those involved in honour killings. It also urged that the next round of data collection by the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) should also have figures on violence against women.

The 14-member committee, which submitted its preliminary report to women and child development (WCD) minister Krishna Tirath on Monday, identified violence against women, declining sex ratio and economic disempowerment as three key issues demanding immediate action by the government. Set up in 2012, it is expected to submit its final report on socio-economic, political and legal status of women in 2015.

Though there is a perceptible increase in violence against women, enough data related to this is unavailable. Speaking to TOI, committee chairperson Pam Rajput said, “The NCRB does not give scientific data on violence against women.”

The committee suggested a mechanism for annual survey by a cell within the WCD ministry or any other organization to collect data on violence against women.

It also rooted for a search committee for selection of members to be appointed to the National Commission for Women. “Appointments must be made keeping professional capability in mind and not political affiliations,” the committee recommended.

This is significant in the backdrop of the recent controversy after the Delhi government sought ouster of the Delhi Commission for Women’s chief, who was called a “political appointee” by AAP members. The committee urged the NCW to move beyond reactive interventions and assume a proactive role.

Stressing on the need for a national policy coupled with an action plan to end gender violence. “If the government agrees to have a national policy, we are ready with the draft. We will go through a consultative process with rights activists to finalise it,” said Rajput.

The committee sought an upgrade for the WCD minister to cabinet rank and more resources. “Currently, about 96% of the ministry’s budget is spent for children with 4% left for women,” said Rajput.

The committee also recommended structural reform in police to tackle violence against women. “Also, the curriculum and training methodology of judicial and police academies must change and must be passed though a gender lens,” said Rajput.

It suggested setting up a parliamentary committee on empowerment of women to examine gender implications of all proposed legislations.

The Centre had set up the committee for comprehensive studies on the status of women since 1989 in order to evolve appropriate policy interventions based on a contemporary assessment of women’s needs. After the chairperson, member secretary and three members resigned, the committee was reconstituted last May.

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